MICHAEL LENAHAN IS THE #1 DRIVER for New York’s #1 transportation service, VSO Premier Limousine. When the new Pope decides to visit New York, he is met at JFK airport by Michael and VSO’s best car, which everyone calls Groundforce One. When Pope Francis sees the car, he is immediately smitten by its shiny black surface and its heavily tinted windows.
While the rest of the Papal entourage is oohing and aahing over the car, Francis approaches the driver and says, “What is your name, my son?”
“Michael, but everyone calls me Mickey, Your Holiness.”
And the Pope says, “You know, Mickey, they don’t let me drive anymore. In Rome, I mean. I hardly ever get to drive. Would you allow me to drive this beautiful automobile?”
Catholic or not, Mickey is hesitant: “I’m sorry, Your Eminence, but I don’t think I’m supposed to do that.”
But the Pope is the Pope after all, and Michael is a good Catholic boy after all, and so it is that Francis takes the wheel. His Holiness is delighted with the power of the car; he also has a leas foot, and he pays no attention to Michael’s pleas for him to slow down.
And so it is that several blocks from JFK, Francis is pulled over for speeding.
Officer Antonio ‘Tony’ deLuca is also good Catholic boy, but from an Italian family. So when walks up to the limo and asks the driver to roll down the window, he immediately recognizes the driver. In fact, he is shocked by what he sees!
Tony asks the driver to wait a minute, and he goes back to his patrol car, sits down, takes a deep breath, and radios in, asking for the Chief of Police: “Chief, we got a problem.”
“What sorta problem?” asks the Chief.
“It’s a BIG problem, Chief.”
And the Chief says, “Wudda ya mean ‘BIG’?
“Well, Chief, I pulled this limo over, right? The driver was WAY over the speed limit but, Chief, when he rolls down his window, well, you’re not gonna believe who was driving! I mean, it’s BIG!”
And the Chief says, “Big like the mayor?”
“No, Chief, a LOT bigger than that!”
And the Chief says, “You pulled over the governor?”
“WAY bigger than that, Chief!”
And the Chief says, “Holy shit, Tony! Please don’t tell me you pulled over Obama!”
And the Chief says, “Bigger!??! For God’s sake, Tony, who is bigger than the President of the United States?!!?”
And Tony says, “I don’t know, Chief. I couldn’t see into the back, but, Chief, he’s got the Pope driving for him . . .”
HEADER IMAGE: The most excellent cartoon at the top of this page is by John Cole for The Scranton Times Tribune. The city of Scranton is known to most people outside of Pennsylvania as the location for the shooting of the television series The Office. For me, Scranton is a sort of sister city to Wilkes-Barre, where I was born. I spent all of 1976 as the bartender at the Sheraton Inn, first exit off of 81 North into Scranton, back when they turned what had been a nice lounge into a cheesy disco . . .